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Baseball: Japanese right-hander Kodai Senga joins Mets on 5-year deal

NEW YORK (Kyodo) -- Japanese free-agent right-hander Kodai Senga has signed a five-year deal with the New York Mets, the National League club said Saturday.

    Senga will turn 30 on Jan. 30. According to, his contract is worth $75 million with a full no-trade clause and an opt-out clause that will allow the former SoftBank Hawks ace to become a free agent after the 2025 season.

    Senga is the first player to join an MLB club after starting on a non-roster developmental contract with a Nippon Professional Baseball team.

    After joining the Hawks in 2011 out of high school, Senga is 87-44 with a 2.59 ERA and has had at least 10 wins for seven straight years since 2016. He went 11-6 with a 1.94 ERA in 22 games this past season.

    Senga is joining a Mets rotation that has added Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, who have won three Cy Young Awards apiece.

    The move to the Mets adds another chapter to an extraordinary career for Senga, who joined the Hawks only after a sporting goods store owner in his hometown of Gamagori in Aichi Prefecture recommended him to a scout for the Pacific League club.

    Not coming close to appearing at the national high school championship and starting on a 2.7 million yen ($19,700) contract with the Hawks, Senga never hesitated to learn from the best players.

    He peppered former Chunichi Dragons ace Kazuki Yoshimi with questions during his first offseason while training together, where Japanese softball icon Yukiko Ueno also inspired him.

    In 2018, Senga traveled to the United States to train with Japanese MLB pitcher Yu Darvish, renewing his desire to one day move to the majors.

    "Being a pitcher doesn't suit my character. I don't want to stand out if I can avoid it," Senga has said, although his determination to improve has always been clear.

    Senga possesses a dominant split-fingered fastball and a fastball that touches 100 miles per hour. He played for Japan during the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

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